The New York Times this past weekend ran an article on Sam Palmisano, who is retiring after about a decade as CEO of IBM. Particularly interesting to me were the four questions he devised as a tool to help get key people thinking in productive new ways.
"The four questions, he explains, were a way to focus thinking and prod the company beyond its comfort zone and to make I.B.M. pre-eminent again. He presented the four-question framework to the company’s top 300 managers at a meeting in early 2003 in Boca Raton, Fla."
• “Why would someone spend their money with you — so what is unique about you?”
• “Why would somebody work for you?”
• “Why would society allow you to operate in their defined geography — their country?”
• “And why would somebody invest their money with you?”
Seems to me those questions --- especially the first --- are equally useful for business ventures a lot smaller than IBM, including those of us who are setting up new businesses or consulting ventures, reinventing careers, or taking a fresh look at whether we're as effective as we could be.
Further, a savvy sales person could incorporate them into a consultative selling approach, adapting these questions into a form to be asked of potential prospects ... thereby establishing the need for your product or service.